Pilar Rahola, Woman of Conscience

by Norman Berdichevsky (July 2012)


The final chapter of my book, The Left is Seldom Right (New English Review Press, 2011 and see interview with me by Jamie Glazov in FrontPage Magazine, Oct. 31, 2011)  deals with three outstanding women journalists and writers who were once saluted by the political Left internationally only to be later abandoned and then subjected to invective and scorn which the Left traditionally uses to castigate "turncoats and traitors." Their record of integrity and courage deserves to be better known. They are Orianna Fallaci, Pilar Rahola and Sigrid Undset. I will deal with each one in turn in subsequent articles.

Best known is Fallaci who became best known for her outstanding bestseller The Rage and the Pride – perhaps the strongest and most emotional statement of support and commitment for the United States and eloquent criticism of Islamic extremism published by a European intellectual in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2011. Sigrid Undset was a Norwegian woman who won the Nobel Prize for Literature and was a truly heroic figure who roused the voice of a Fighting Norway in exile during the years 1940-46 in the United States.

The only one living today is Pilar Rahola, a Catalan writer and former political figure whose family was long associated with the struggle for Catalan independence and the resistance to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Her staunch defense of Israel and the United States has made her a target of the orthodox Spanish Left. Last but certainly not least is Sigrid Undset, a winner of the Nobel Prize and a heroine of the Norwegian resistance who was hailed by the Left, but forgotten and rejected by the present generation of feminists and Leftists for her principled stands against antisemitism and for her rejection of crass materialism, deep spirituality and her “incorrect” emphasis as a feminist on biological destiny with motherhood as the highest duty a woman can aspire to, all out of fashion now and politically incorrect.

Rahola comes from a distinguished family of Catalan nationalists that includes Pere Rahola, the Minister of the Navy during the Spanish Republic, Frederic Rahola, the first public defender in the regionalist government (Generalitat de Catalunya); and Carlos Rahola, a writer executed by the Franco regime. She studied Spanish and Catalan Philology at the University of Barcelona, is a talk show host and has published several books. She was Vice- Mayor of Barcelona from 1994 to 2000 and a member of the Cortes for the leftwing nationalist and Republican Party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC; The Republican Left of Catalonia) in the Cortes and is currently a columnist for La Vanguardia, El Periódico, El País and Avuí in Spain; La Nación in Argentina; and Diario de América in the United States (Miami). She is married and has three children, two of them adopted.

From 1987 to 1990, she directed Portic, the Catalan publishing house and covered wars in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and the fall of the Berlin Wall. She has participated in several parliamentary committees of investigation. In 1996, Rahola left the ERC to help establish a new political group, Partit per la Independencia, but after failing reelection, she concentrated on journalism and writing. Her main areas of interest include women's rights, international human rights, and animal rights and in recent years has spoken out about the galling hypocrisy of left wing politicians and notorious "intellectuals" such as Saramago and Theodorakis without scruples with regards to Israel, antisemitism and Zionism.

She has explained the abject failure of the political Left in her country to educate the public and combat antisemitism and the country’s surrender in foreign policy surrender to a pro-Arab, anti-Israel, and anti-American stance. Rahola is now a “Prophet without honor in her own country.”

The Catalan and Barcelona government authorities have in past years cancelled “Holocaust Remembrance Day” because in their view it would not be proper while the “Israelis were carrying out a holocaust against the people of Gaza.” The grotesque analogy drawn in comparing the two is a symptom of the absurd time we live in. Spain’s last and ultra- reactionary King Alfonso XIII was more of a modern and enlightened statesman than the former Spanish Socialist leader Jose Antonio Zapatero. The most widely read newspaper in the country which delights in being called “The New York Times of Spain,” the left-wing El País, is consistently the most extreme in its constant criticism and often demonization of Israel and Zionism; Jose Maria Bastenier, its international affairs editor, has frequently published invectives against the Jewish state, and portrays the Israelis as planning the "final solution of the Palestinian question."

The language used in the mass media duplicates the language used by the Far Right propaganda before and during the Spanish Civil War holding “Jews” (or disguised as the “Neocons” today) responsible for the world financial crisis. At the same time those political forces and media on the Left often seek to excuse blatant examples of Muslim rejection of Western social, moral and political values.

Both Rahola and Fallaci, as women, were more alert to the utter disregard for women’s and children’s rights in Muslim societies than their male counterparts. Pilar Rahola is disgusted by how her erstwhile allies on the political Left in Spain have violated their principles and applaud the use of Palestinian refugees, women and children as cannon fodder by Hamas and Hizbollah.

The previous centrist-right government of Jose Maria Aznar had taken a risk in supporting the American intervention in Iraq thereby “provoking” Islamic extremists. It has however, been established that the plans to make a spectacular terrorist attack had been made well in advance of  the Aznar government’s decision to send a token military force to Iraq and before the 2004 election in which Aznar was defeated by the socialists under Zapatero. The Spanish press, mindful of the long tradition of anti-Americanism evident since the Spanish-American War (1898), strongly supported the criticism of the post-Gonzalez Socialist Party’s two favorite targets – Israel and America.

In a reversal of the situation in 1986 when the forces of modernism, democracy and rejection of Spain’s old prejudices made the Socialist Party under Felipe Gonzalez welcome relations with Israel, the political Left has totally embraced the worst excesses of despotic Arab governments as long as they are camouflaged in anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric.

Zapatero confirmed the dire and accurate warning made by one of the founding fathers of the Socialist movement in Europe – August Bebel, the head of the SAPD (Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, "Socialist Workers’ Party”), renamed the SPD in 1890 – the ancestor of today’s major socialist party in Germany. Bebel criticized the tendency of populist political parties to use the Jews as their scapegoat and accurately proclaimed that “Antisemitism is the Socialism of Fools.”

Most Spaniards refuse to accept the reality that the extremist anti-Israel forces among the most radical Palestinian Muslim Arabs and the Muslim perpetrators of atrocious attacks on innocent Spaniards are one and the same in their ultimate motives; the desire to “regain” Andalucía, restore the Caliphate, destroy the Jewish state and weaken Western civilization in the process. This policy of appeasement was regarded by the former socialist government as the best means of ensuring Spain’s supply of oil (90% provided by Middle Eastern countries) and pacifying Spain’s growing Muslim population of more than 750,000.

As Pilar wrote in recent website articles,….”The Left has always been anti-Western, and therefore not so far removed from some of the obsessions of current Islamic fundamentalism. In any case, it has been said that in Israel, killings in the name of Islamic nihilism have benefited from increasing impunity, and every Israeli victim that is reviled, ignored or despised by Western intelligentsia, has prepared the way for the killings in Atocha (Madrid train station bombing) and London (terrorist attack on the Underground).….As a non-Jew, journalist and Leftist, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too.”

In an interview with the Buenos Aires blog, El Rejuente, Pilar pointed to the total moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Left’s silence of the massacres against innocent civilians in Syria by asking the simple question…..

What would happen in our cities if what has been happening in Syria actually occurred in Israel? I mean instead of an Arab dictator massacring an Arab population as usual in a situation outside of the Arab-Israeli conflict, what would happen? The streets would be full of demonstrators demanding the excommunication of Israel, many universities would be instituting boycotts, the usual suspects among artists and intellectuals would be making videos bent on proselytizing and in the shadows of their consciences, the old idea would be circulated that the Jews are the world’s problem. And all of this would happen with the understanding that there is nothing else of concern in the world.

The fact is that in Israel nobody is being massacred for demonstrating, there is no dictator killing the civilian population and the bellicose conflict of decades continues to be nourished for all eternity by Israel’s neighbors in a war that never ends. I include the Iranian menace of massive destruction and although missiles may daily land in Israel amidst its population and fanatical groups of an Islamist army in the South and North continue to rearm, when Israel fires a single bullet, our streets erupt in indignation. Israel has never had the right of self-defense and for many, neither the right to exist. But when the bullets fall are those of old time friends of the Socialist International, those that until a short time ago were considered as the liberators of peoples, - What a powerful silence!

The victims of the Arab and Muslim dictators were never of interest. In fact, the son (Baashar al-Assad) is only honoring his father (Hafez al-Assd) with his methods and with total impunity. But, no matter. There are neither marches, nor boycotts nor indignant artists. Nothing. There are no tears for the dead of Syria – because all the tears have been wasted against Israel.

The recent Spanish parliamentary elections resulted in an overwhelming defeat for the Socialists. The resounding victory of Spain's center-right Popular Party (PP) was due primarily to the country's deep debt crisis. The PP now has an absolute majority and while foreign policy played only a very minor role in the elections, it may be hoped that many Spaniards who so gullibly followed the economic policies and extreme anti-Israel line of Zapatero and the Socialists will have second thoughts on both accounts and recall the warnings and admonitions of a woman of great conscience and courage, Pilar Rahola.

Norman Berdichevsky's latest book is The Left is Seldom Right.


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